Roy Chitwood Article      

If your firm is like most others in the accounting and technology reselling professions, it's having a banner year.

A strong national economy, coupled with businesses preparing for the year 2000 - also known as the "Accounting Software Full-Employment Act of 1999" - means that opportunities will continue to be rich. The prosperity has attracted new and improved entrants to the accounting profession, including consolidators, larger practices, telemarketers, rainmakers and others who are establishing footholds as the year 2000 dawns.

These competitors are squeezing second-tier firms,

large local firms and smaller boutiques, forcing them to sell more effectively to survive.

The same goes for software.

For many years resellers have had free and open access to software sales and consulting services to all sizes of firms. They now find large, killer competitors coming upstream and some high-end vendors with direct sales forces heading downstream to compete. Of course, customer demand driven by the Y2k issue will end after this year. Without the Millennium Bug as a propellant, software reselling accountants and resellers will base their growth on how well they can sell their products and services in a more competitive marketplace. If you want to be among the top 10 percent of business development specialists or resellers, you don't have to be 100 percent better in prospecting, client presentation and closing.

If you become only 20 percent better in each step of a "Track Selling" approach, your opportunities for engagements and sales will take quantum leaps.

Small improvements can make the big difference between a winner and second place. A baseball player with a .200 average is only marginal, but at .300, the same hitter becomes a star. The difference between mediocrity and stardom is just one more hit every 10 times at bat. Selling in the accounting and software industries offers great opportunities to anyone looking for a successful career. But building success, like building a house, requires a blueprint.

Developing a blueprint for a career that includes selling has never been more vital to accountants or resellers.

"When selling becomes a procedure it ceases to be a problem; until it becomes a procedure, it will always be a problem,"

a great salesman once said. An inability to sell engagements or software in the future, or the lack of a sales blueprint, will be the downfall of accounting professionals and resellers.

We call our blueprint the "Pyramid of Success."

A pyramid exemplifies permanency by being durable, steady and long lasting. The same is true in building your sales career: If it is built like a pyramid, it will last a lifetime.

Building a successful sales career in accounting or software requires five ingredients that are available to anyone with a keen desire to succeed:

1. Interest. This is the decision you make to develop, practice and apply the information available that will cause you to become as successful as you are capable of becoming. When you are interested, you are excited about your career and you continue to learn. You try to keep up on your industry and on the latest trends and developments in your business world. You will select continuing education courses that improve not only your technical skills, but also your people skills. School is never out for the professional. If you are genuinely interested, several traits will show through. You will be enthusiastic, hard working, organized, disciplined and always willing to try something new. You will also usually fraternize with the most successful CPAs and resellers. You sense an involvement, which is the basis of getting to the top. Interested people tend to be successful, largely because of their enthusiasm. When salespeople get enthused, prospects get enthused, which makes them more likely to buy. This also holds true for accounting and software professionals.

2. Attitude. This communicates your opinion of people, business and life in general. There are only two kinds of people in the world: Those who think they can and those who think they can't. The irony is that they're both right. How you think affects your outcome; people can change their lives by changing their attitudes. A negative thinker's career has a downward spiral. You will find that his or her negative behavior feeds on negative thoughts. Positive thoughts, meanwhile, produce positive results. Here are a few tips on how to remain positive: Regularly feed your mind positive thoughts, look for the positive in any negative situation, act to improve negative situations and network with successful people.

3. Energy. This is not just physical, but rather something that grows from interest and a positive attitude. When you are excited about your day's activities you have the energy to carry you through. Plan on developing your capacity by getting a little better every day. If you could do your job a little better today than yesterday and a little better tomorrow and the next day, imagine the impact this will have on your career in one short year. Where do you get all that extra energy? Your own enthusiasm and positive attitude can give you the energy to carry you through. Every year in Alaska they hold the Iditarod, a dog-sled race covering over 1,000 miles that can last a grueling 15 days and nights. A few years ago, that race was won by just one second: That second difference made all the difference in the world. The same holds true in selling. Little differences can add up to make all the difference in the world.

4. Method. This means a step-by-step procedure that covers all the points in the selling process and leaves nothing to chance. Method is a game plan for selling your product or service to your prospect. To reiterate: "When selling becomes a procedure, it ceases to be a problem; until it becomes a procedure, it will always be a problem." Think about the role that methodology plays in an accounting engagement or computer installation. If the proper method is followed step-by-step from the beginning, it will usually ensure success. The same is true in selling engagements or software. Combine method with interest, attitude and the energy that it creates, and you will be on top of the "Pyramid of Success." Method is the essential ingredient missing from most sales training programs, but without it your sales skills are like a million-dollar computer with no software.

5. Success. This is the self-satisfaction in accomplishing something that is important to you. Of course, success is relative and means different things to different people. Only when you make clear what success means to you can you pursue it effectively. Yes, accountants can sell. Combining an accountant with the right selling skills makes for an awesome combination.